Federal Advocacy Update: Week of June 5, 2018

U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol

In this issue:

NLC Urges Senate to Increase Funding for CDBG

Michael Wallace, 202-626-3025

On May 30, NLC sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Housing and Transportation Subcommittee requesting additional funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.  Last year, following NLC advocacy, Congress stepped-up CDBG funding by $300 million, to $3.3 billion.  The CDBG Coalition, comprised of NLC and other groups representing local elected officials and housing and development professionals, is urging Congress this year to increase CDBG funding to $3.5 billion.  Although still well below the $4.45 billion allocated to CDBG in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, two consecutive years of funding increases would represent a major step forward in the effort to restore CDBG to full funding levels.  

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to release and vote on a draft Housing and Transportation Spending Bill this week. The House Appropriations Committee advanced their draft of the bill last week, which would maintain an overall 10 percent increase in HUD funding, but would hold CDBG flat at $3.3 billion.

For more information on the development of the FY19 spending bills, visit NLC’s Budget Tracker, which tracks dozens of federal programs important to cities across all federal agencies.

Insurance Hearing Gives Insight into the Future of AVs

Brittney Kohler, 202.626.3164

On May 23, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the impact of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the future of insurance. This hearing comes as debate continues to swirl in the Senate around the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act (AV START Act; S. 1885). Insurance industry representatives from State Farm, American Family Insurance, and the Consumer Federation of America provided testimony at the hearing.
 
The hearing gave cities a glimpse at what AV technology might do to our roads and what changes will be necessary in response to that technology. Data access remains one of our top concerns with the current legislation. The panelists shared those concerns, pressing that crash data will be absolutely essential to performing risk analysis and determining liability. 

As it is currently written, the AV START Act has no provisions guaranteeing data access to either the public or insurance companies. The panelists also spoke to the future of the insurance landscape and the ways that the industry will have to innovate as large fleets of AVs are deployed by companies. For more on the key takeaways from this hearing visit NLC’s blog, CitiesSpeak

This Summer is Time to BUILD the Case for Local Transportation Projects

Brittney Kohler, 202.626.3164

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) popular TIGER discretionary grant program has been given a new name this year: Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD). Cities are experiencing a wide range of transportation needs today from aging transit systems to worn out bridges, and this year Congress is making $1.5 billion available through the BUILD competitive application process. However, time is short – applications are due July 19. 

For cities that have applied before, the program details will be familiar, but USDOT has highlighted two significant changes. This year they will continue their focus on rural applicants and they’re looking to see a focus on the merit criteria that best fits the project rather than applications that try to incorporate all the criteria. For an in-depth breakdown on the BUILD grant program, visit NLC’s blog, CitiesSpeak, and review the USDOT guidance on how to apply

South Dakota v. Wayfair: What's Next for Internet Sales Tax?

Ashley Smith, 202.626.3094

States and local governments hold their breath waiting for the Supreme Court to rule that they may require out-of-state vendors to collect sales tax. Join Tillman Breckenridge, Bailey Glasser, who wrote the State and Local Legal Center amicus brief in this case, in a discussion about what the Court's opinion says. Craig Johnson, Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, will discuss what states and local governments may do to implement the Court's decision. Emily Swenson Brock, Government Finance Officers Association, will discuss how Congress and state and local government Chief Financial Officers are reacting to the decision and lobbying strategy for states and local governments.  

Date: July 12, 2018
Time: 1 PM EDT
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